Last Year at Marienbad, 1961
We stood in line in the pouring rain outside an Art Film house, a gust
of wind having stolen our umbrellas. Last Year at Marienbad had
just opened. Though we professed to liking avant garde movies, I’d
rather have had a good laugh with Melina Mercouri in Never on
Sunday. Dripping wet, we found seats and settled in to ninety-three
minutes of stunning, though incomprehensible, cinematography.
Yes, there were three characters, shifting viewpoints, a Baroque
castle, trees without shadows, but we left the theater shaking our
heads, wondering if we could have an opinion that made any sense.
Rain coming down in sheets, we hailed a cab, found ourselves
snickering about the film, until the thick, middle-aged cabbie
wearing a Yankees’ cap, a Hungarian name on his hack license,
said, You guys just come from Last Year at Marienbad? We said,
Yes, and he said, Did you understand it? and we admitted,
Not really. He adjusted his cap and turning to eye us, Surrealism,
hesaid. You know what that means? Not wanting to appear morons,
we said, Yes; then he said, Let me tell you what the movie’s about.
While zigzagging through traffic, he explained the significance of
filming it in black and white and whether the other guy was really
her husband or if any of the conversations ever took place. Crossing
the Queensborough Bridge at warp speed, he bucketedthe cab to a
stop at our destination in Rego Park, where he said, Get it now? and
before we could collect our wits to answer,he nodded, knowingly,
Best movie I ever seen.
Nancy Scott is managing editor of US1 Worksheets and author of a whole lot of poetry books, a novel and a novella. She is also an artist, sometimes publishing her poetry and collages together. www.nancyscott.net